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Bibi Valentin

Impression: Freer Gallery of Art
Freer Gallery of Art
Number: 34
Date: 1859
Medium: etching and drypoint
Size: 152 x 228 mm
Signed: 'Whistler.' at lower left
Inscribed: '1859.' at lower left
Set/Publication: no
No. of States: 2
Known impressions: 44
Catalogues: K.50; M.50; T.26; W.28
Impressions taken from this plate  (44)


child, girl seated, portrait.


The known variations of the title are as follows:

'Bibi Valentin' or 'Bibé Valentin' (1870s, Whistler). 1
'Portrait of Bibi Valentin' (1874, James Anderson Rose (1819-1890)). 2
'Bibi Valentin' (1874, Ralph Thomas, Jr (1840-1876)). 3

The original and definitive title is clearly 'Bibi Valentin'.

1: Written - but not clearly - on .

2: Liverpool 1874 (cat. no. 485).

3: Thomas 1874[more] (cat. no. 26).


A young child, a girl, sits facing the viewer, leaning on her left elbow, legs extended to left. She wears a high-necked smock and buttoned boots, and round her short fair hair she has a ribbon, which falls down onto her shoulder at right.


The daughter of Valentin (fl. 1859), she posed for Whistler in Paris. This is one of two children's portraits done in 1859, with Bibi Lalouette 033. In 1892 Mme Valentin wrote to Whistler:
'Je vais vous paraître bien indiscrète en vous demandant une de vos belles Eaux-fortes. celà me ferait un bien grand plaisir car nous n'avions de vous que le portrait de ma fille, que vous aviez fait rue des Sts. Pères, et qu'elle m'a repris depuis son mariage.' 4

4: A. Valentin to Whistler, 28 February 1892, GUW #05192.

(Translated: 'You will think me very indiscreet in asking you for one of your beautiful Etchings. it would give me great pleasure because the only work we have of yours is the portrait of my daughter, which you had done in the Rue des Sts. Pères, and which she took when she married.'